Posts Tagged ‘ kids screen time ’

Making Screen Time QUALITY Time

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

As screen time increases for both parents and kids, we often talk about how to reduce it. But is this focus misplaced and unrealistic in today’s society? Today Golnar Khosrowshahi of GoGoNews offers her perspective on how the quality of screen time may be a more forward looking way of approaching the issue. 

The Louvre Museum in Paris recently unveiled Nintendo hand held consoles as their interactive device of choice for visitors to navigate the museum and learn more about selected works of art. While the innovation is fantastic and it delivers substantive nuggets of information to the museum goer, it also partially transforms what was previously an interactive experience with the art and other visitors into an interactive experience between man and machine. In support of the device however, I would argue that providing easier access to better information results in an enlightened individual and altogether, more productive time spent under Pei’s pyramid.

When I was growing up, the popular trend in helicopter parenting was to limit children’s exposure to television. Today’s generation has a more generic limitation in that many parents want to limit ‘screen time’. It is undeniable that children are consuming a variety of content be it video games, television shows or music videos through a variety of screens be it television, smartphones, tablets or computers. However, it cannot all be that bad with the wealth of educational content that is distributed through these very same screens. Should parents be counting and thus limiting those ‘good’ screen hours together with the ‘bad’ screen hours? Many parents’ aversion to long hours spent in front of the screen is prompted by the misconception that these have to be solitary hours. Why not turn this time spent together looking at interesting websites and using the content as a platform for further discussion?

I often question my personal indifference to my children’s time spent between their desktop and tablet computers. Instead of encouraging them to power down, I am exchanging notes with them on the latest and greatest Apps, getting into drawing competitions with them with interactive games such as Draw Something and when not in their company, gifting them books I think they would enjoy to their e-reader accounts. I know, however, that I would start limiting their screen time if all they were doing was watching mindless teeny bopper comedies. But because they are either reading, drawing, or even playing games that hone their fine motor skills, I not only have absolutely no problem with the screen time, in fact I actually encourage it.

I believe that we can all benefit from the ease and access that children have to information in today’s world. For my children, the additional exposure and cross platform access is making them read in great quantity across a variety of subjects. Experiences such as a visit to the museum are of a greater quality because children can learn and understand more than they would have otherwise – all from a screen. So perhaps, our job as parents is not so much to limit screen time, but to ensure screen quality time, and at the end of the day, channel all of these eye opening experiences into dinner table conversations.

Golnar Khosrowshahi is the founder of GoGoNews, a website that publishes up to the minute, age appropriate current events for children. She has also written for The Huffington Post and been featured in many technology and parenting related columns. You can read featured guest blog posts by her here at Red-Hot Parenting the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month.

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Screen Time For Kids: Then And Now

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

In my review of the 6 most important studies of 2011, I selected the recent survey on kids’ screen time conducted by the nonprofit group Common Sense Media. This report provides very new data that tells us what we suspected – kids’ screen time keeps increasing even though the American Academy of Pediatrics continues to urge parents to try to stick to reasonable guidelines. One reason for this is that technology – especially mobile technology – is becoming more central to many people’s lives, including youth. Another reason is that stationary technology (like a TV and DVD) is becoming a staple in kids’ bedrooms. But the question remains: Is this a problem?

Here’s the thing that many of us are now worried about – do all the new options out there flood many kids with too many opportunities for screen time? And even disregarding content, is the ever-expanding volume of screen time going to inhibit other forms of cognitive development? I don’t have an answer to that question. But I admit, as someone who studies child development, I do have concerns. Even though I watched lots of TV growing up, and was pretty much unsupervised, I had a grand total of 6 channels to choose from as a kid (yes, this is before cable TV became a reality). There were no DVD players, and in fact no VCRs. (Okay, so by now you’ve figured out that I’m not exactly a young adult!). And I’ll state the obvious: we didn’t have home computers and hand-held devices and mobile phones. So after a while, you kinda ran out of options in terms of sitting in front of a screen. 

But that’s not the case now. A great blog post by my fellow Parents.com blogger Allison Winn Scotch titled “Moderating Screen Time – What’s Okay, What’s Not?”  touches on lots of the issues that most of us parents wrestle with. Allison mentions that, like me, she is somewhat liberal in terms of how monitors her kids’ screen time, in part because, like me, she “grew up watching bucketloads of the tube  and still developed an avid love of books and reading, and still became (quite obviously) a writer.”  But she is still trying to figure out what’s enough, and what’s too much, when it comes to her kids – as am I.

My only thought is that we – meaning those of us who offer advice on child development – may have it backwards when we talk about setting limits on screen time. Maybe we should be emphasizing the things we think kids should be doing, like reading at least 30 minutes a day, getting 30 minutes of exercise daily, and having devoted time every day for family talk without any devices on. As kids get older of course homework needs to be done. Let’s not forget that each kid needs to get a sufficient amount of sleep night after night  so a consistent and appropriate bedtime needs to be upheld. Once all those conditions are met, then we don’t have to worry so much about how much time our kids spend looking at a screen.

Let’s face it, I’m not worried that kids aren’t learning how to read because of screen time. I’d just like to be sure that some young kid who could develop into a prolific writer like Allison (check out her bio here) can still develop a love of writing while living the life of a digital native.

Image of young girl with mobile phone via ShutterStock.com

 

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